Former PM and Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori bashes his Olympic athletes, including “naturalized citizens” Chris and Cathy Reed (PLUS article on J athletes’ shortened lifespans due to the pressure)

Aaand, the inevitable has happened: Japan’s apparently underperforming athletes (particularly its ice skaters) have invited criticism from Japan’s elite. Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori Yoshiro, one of Japan’s biggest gaffemeisters when he served an abysmal stint as Prime Minister, decided to shoot his mouth off about champion skater Asada Mao’s propensity to choke under pressure. But more importantly, as far as Debito.org is concerned, about how the American-Japanese skating siblings Cathy and Chris Reed’s racial background has negatively affected their performance:

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

Oh. But wait. They’re not naturalized. They always had Japanese citizenship, since their mother is Japanese. And how about Japan’s other athletes that also train if not live overseas (such as Gold Medalist Skater Hanyu Yuzuru, who now hails from Toronto)? Oh, but he won, so that’s okay. He’s a real pureblooded Japanese with the requisite yamato damashi.

In fact, the existence of people like Mori are exactly the reason why Japan’s athletes choke. As I’ve written before, they put so much pressure and expectation on them to perform perfectly as national representatives, not as individuals trying to achieve their personal best, so if they don’t medal (or worse yet, don’t Gold), they are a national shame. It’s a very high-stakes game for Japan’s international athletes, and this much pressure is counterproductive for Japan: It in fact shortens their lives not only as competitors, but as human beings (see article by Mark Schreiber after the Japanese articles).

Fortunately, this has not escaped the world media’s glance. As CBS News put it: “Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!” But expect more of this, for this is how “sporting spirit” is hard-wired in Japan. Because these types of people (especially their invisible counterparts in the media and internet) are not only unaccountable, they’re devoid of any self-awareness or empathy. If they think they can do better, as one brash Japanese Olympic swimmer once said, why don’t they try doing it themselves? Then she was taken off the team, never to return.

Reuters on skater Yuko Kawaguchi: How Japan’s lack of dual nationality brands her a “traitor”

MOSCOW, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Yuko Kawaguchi was branded a traitor in her native Japan when she changed nationality to pursue her childhood dream of competing in the Olympics.

Since Japan does not allow dual citizenship, the figure skater was forced to give up her Japanese passport in exchange for a Russian one, enabling her and partner Alexander Smirnov to represent her adopted country at next year’s Winter Games in Vancouver…

While competing internationally for Russia required approval only from the sport’s governing body, the International Skating Union (ISU), she had to obtain Russian citizenship in order to take part in the Olympics.

COMMENT:Here’s another case of how Japan’s lack of dual nationality causes unnecessary hardship and sacrifice. Figure skater Yuko Kawaguchi has to give up her Japanese nationality in order to skate — and she reportedly gets branded a “traitor” for her trouble.

Japan puts enough pressure on its athletes to be world-class (sometimes demanding no less than a gold medal), and this lack of a “personal-best” culture (i.e. Japanese athletes have to become the pride or shame of the entire nation in any international competition) means many Japanese choke and crumble under the stress. Or in this case, give up their legal ties to Japan entirely. Silly. Then again, if Kawaguchi DOES get the Gold, we might claim her all over again (like we did the emigrant “Japanese” who got Nobel Prizes recently).

It’s time to get governments off their 20th-Century war footings (as in, “If we grant dual nationality , what if we go to war with that country? Which side will you choose?”) and allow individuals more options and identities. And nationalities. Because, again, international migration warrants that.

Naomi Osaka’s US Open victory over Serena Williams: Congratulations, but I don’t think you know what you’re getting yourself into.

I want to say congratulations to Naomi Osaka for winning the US Open last weekend, soundly defeating her hero and template, tennis legend Serena Williams. But Ms. Osaka, I don’t think you have idea what you’ve gotten yourself into by deciding to play for Japan.

Debito.org has talked extensively in the past how Japan puts undue pressure on its athletes (especially in international competitions, since national pride and issues of superiority-inferiority come into play very quickly), sometimes with fatal results. Doubly so for “haafu” Japanese, since questions about their identity and loyalties seep in to complicate things further. There are plenty of examples of Japanese with diverse backgrounds being discounted or disqualified from being “true” Japanese when they don’t win something (such as international beauty pageants). But when they do win (as seen numerous times with Japan’s Nobel Laureates, many of whom have long left Japan, taken foreign citizenships, and even said that they wouldn’t have gotten their achievements if they had remained in Japan), it’s suddenly because they are “Japanese”. But most of that support will only continue if she continues to win. Otherwise, given Japan’s constant self-conception as radicalized entities, she’d be losing tournaments because of her mixed-ness (as has been claimed about Japan’s rugby teams and figure skaters). She’s not pure enough as a haafu to measure up.

So why do it? The NYT notes why Ms. Osaka’s father decided she should represent Japan: “”If Osaka played under the American flag, it’s very unlikely that these [highly-lucrative] opportunities would exist. Japanese companies would have no reason to court her and U.S. brands would have other higher-ranked young guns to consider, like Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens. But as Japan’s top-ranked player, Osaka has the full attention of the country’s top brands, whose sponsorship fees can run far higher than those of their Western counterparts.”

Then all Ms. Osaka’s talent and youthful energy may wind up being frittered away dealing with Japan’s pressure on their sports representatives — a pressure of perfectionism that expects Japanese champions to remain champions no matter what. In essence, this approach, decided by Ms. Osaka’s father, to make her a bigger-fish-in-a-smaller-pond may backfire, becoming the millstone around her neck:  a drag that could shorten her overall career if not her life. Again, I congratulate Ms. Osaka on her success, and wish her the best of luck. But I really don’t think she knows what she’s gotten herself into.

Wash Post & BBC: “Japan gets first sumo champion in 19 years”. Really? What oddly racist triumphalism from foreign press!

We have a really weird conceit going on in the foreign press (see Washington Post and BBC below) regarding sumo wrestler Kisenosato’s rise to yokozuna, the highest rank. (Congratulations, and well done, by the way.) They are portraying it as “Japan’s first sumo champion of 19 years.”

Well, guess what, guys. Wrong. Japan has had other sumo champions in the 19 years, as you mention. Hakuho, Harumafuji and Kakuryu. There as also (oddly disgraced and scapegoated) Asashoryu as well. Yes, they were born in Mongolia. But guess what. Who cares?

If you do care, does that mean you are subscribing to the racist theory (widely held in Japan, anyway, dating from the days of Akebono and Musashimaru) that because they aren’t Japanese, they don’t count as “real” sumo champions? (Both Akebono and Musashimaru are naturalized Japanese, by the way, and were when they were yokozuna less than 19 years ago. How ignorant of you not to mention that.)

Or are you subscribing to the tenet, as the Sumo Association does, that even naturalized Japanese sumo wrestlers don’t count as Japanese?

Or are you subscribing to the tenets, as expressed by racist fans below, that sumo has somehow “lost something” because foreign-born wrestlers rose to the top? Is sumo an ethno-sport? The Sumo Association tried to make it into into an Olympic event, by the way. And would that mean if Japanese do not medal, as happens in Japan-originated events such as Judo, that the event has “lost something”?

Foreign reporters, kindly don’t racialize the sport with these types of headlines and reports. Herald the athletes for their physical prowess regardless of origin. Because you know better. Articles like these wouldn’t fly if you were writing about a sport in your home country. Imagine England claiming (and you reporting as such) that soccer has no real champion every time it doesn’t win a World Cup! Don’t succumb to a racist narrative just because it comes from Japan.

Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case: Conclusions and Lessons I learned from it

LESSONS OF THE URAWA “JAPANESE ONLY” SOCCER STADIUM BANNER CASE OF MARCH 8, 2014

Let’s sew this issue up: What happened this week is probably the most dramatic and progressive thing to happen to NJ in Japan, particularly its Visible Minorities, since the Otaru Onsens Case came down with its District Court Decision in November 2002.

In this decision, a Japanese court ruled for only the second time (the first being the Ana Bortz Case back in October 1999) that “Japanese Only” signs and rules were racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu).

It did not call it discrimination instead based on “ethnicity” (minzoku), “nationality” (kokuseki), outward appearance (gaiken), or some kind of “misunderstanding” (gokai), “ingrained cultural habit” or “necessary business practice” (shuukan no chigai, seikatsu shuukan, shakai tsuunen, shikatsu mondai etc.). All of these claims had merely been excuses made to ignore the elephant in the room that more invidious racialized processes were involved.

But in the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Stadium Banner Case, the word jinshu sabetsu reappeared in the terms of debate, and we may in fact have witnessed a watershed moment in Japan’s race relations history. Yet it wouldn’t have happened without the issue leaking outside of Japan, incurring gaiatsu (outside pressure), and a real threat to Japan’s worldwide reputation as a “civilized” society. A full explication follows:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 12, 2014

Table of Contents:

MORE RACIALIZED NASTINESS

1) “Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it
2) Immigration Bureau: Points System visa and visual images of who might be qualified to apply (mostly White people; melanin need not apply)
3) SITYS: Japan Times: “Points System” visa of 2012 being overhauled for being too strict; only 700 applicants for 2000 slots
4) YouTube: Police NJ Passport Checkpoint at Shibuya March 3, 2014 (targeted NJ does not comply)
5) Former PM and Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori bashes his Olympic athletes, including “naturalized citizens” Chris and Cathy Reed

MORE RACIALIZED SILLINESS

6) ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!
7) The consequent Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014
8 ) Discussion: How about this ad by COCO’s English Juku, learning English to get a competitive advantage over foreign rivals?
9) Amazing non-news: Kyodo: “Tokyo bathhouses look to tap foreigners but ensure they behave”
10) Papa John’s Pizza NY racism case 2012: “Lady chinky eyes” receipt gets employee fired. A case-study template

AS LIFE CONTINUES TO DRAIN OUT OF THE SYSTEM

11) Bloomberg column: “A rebuke to Japanese nationalism”, gets it about right
12) Fun facts #18: More than 10% of all homes in Japan are vacant, will be nearly a quarter by 2028
13) Weird stats from Jiji Press citing MHLW’s “record number of NJ laborers” in Japan. Yet Ekonomisuto shows much higher in 2008!
14) NHK World: Tokyo Court orders Tokyo Metro Govt to compensate Muslim NJ for breach of privacy after NPA document online leaks
(but rules that police spying on NJ is permitted)

… and finally…

15) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 71 January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Table of Contents:
NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…
1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan
2) Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas
3) CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems
4) Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time
5) Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming
6) Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?
7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

CHOTTO MATTA…!
8 ) Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza
9) JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records
10) Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program
11) NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”
12) CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack
13) New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu
14) CNNGo.com does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens
15) NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

BASTA!
16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
BUT
17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.
18) Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant
19) Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry
20) Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme
… and finally …
21) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 11, 2010

UNITED NATIONS REVIEWS JAPAN

1) Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim;
GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”
2) UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva.
Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.
3) UNHCR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens
4) UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante visiting Japan 3/21 – 4/1

SOME ODD DEVELOPMENTS

5) DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.
6) Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program
7) MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visa renewals

SOME ODDER TANGENTS

8 ) Newsweek column: “Toyota and the End of Japan”
9) 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers
10) China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article

DEBITO’S MARCH TOUR:

11) Tokyo-Sendai-Shiga Schedule March 19 to April 3

… and finally …

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:

WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
(this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

TANGENTS
18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org
21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

… and finally …
24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 22, 2009

Table of Contents:
MORE ON THE SAVOIE CHILD ABDUCTION CASE
1) CBS News interviews Chris Savoie after his return to US
2) Joseph pieces together plausible timeline in Savoie Case, finds for Christopher
3) Colin Jones in Japan Times: What the media attention from Savoie Child Abduction Case highlights
4) Colin Jones II: How J media is portraying J divorcees and child abductors as victims, NJ as perps
5) Asahi Shinbun Editorial: Child abduction in Japan, English Translation tweaks for NJ audience
6) CSM’s Kambayashi ties up Savoie Case, alludes to gender discrimination
7) The Atlantic Monthly on mercenary child-retrievers, mentions Japan
8 ) Foreign Policy.com: US Govt advised Chris Savoie to get children to Fukuoka Consulate! Plus lots more media.
9) The Toland Child Abduction Case: making waves in the wake of the Savoie Case
10) Wiegert Case of child custody awarded to NJ: In 1984! A precedent, anyway.

ASIDE FROM THE SAVOIE CASE
11) YouTube: right-wing xenophobia: rightists resort to street violence to shut people up
12) Query: Driver License schools now checking NJ visas? (UPDATE: Also Postal Savings)
13) Reuters on skater Yuko Kawaguchi: How Japan’s lack of dual nationality brands her a “traitor”
14) Sunday Tangent: China Daily on Chinese African-American girl facing racism in China
15) JK: recent moves by Japan’s Immigration Bureau that seem like loosening but not really
16) Tangent: Japanese family wants to become naturalized Korean citizens
17) McDonald’s “Mr James” in Shuukan Kin’youbi — the only Japanese press coverage the issue got
18) Contacting San Fran Human Rights Comm re Japan Times letter to the editor from exclusionary landlord

… and finally …
19) Presentation at Japan Writer’s Conference Sat Oct 17, Doshisha Women’s Univ.
On how to write quickly, concisely, and with panache (link to handout)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 5, 2007

1) DOCUMENTARY FILM ON CHILD ABDUCTION: TOKYO DEC 11 FUND RAISER
2) NJ FINGERPRINTING POLICY FOLLOW-UP:
a) EUROPEAN AND ANTIPODEAN BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS LODGE PROTESTS
b) US MILITARY SOFA EXCEPTED FROM FP LAWS
c) PROBABLE USG INVOLVEMENT IN FP POLICY INCEPTION
d) DIET DEBATES ON ANTI-TERROR POLICY NOT OVER YET
e) MOJ MINISTER HATOYAMA JUSTIFIES FP POLICY THRU HIS OWN AL-QAEDA LINKS

3) THE DRAGNET TIGHTENS: USG: PROVE NO CRIMINAL RECORD OVERSEAS FOR GOJ LONG-TERM VISAS
4) JAPAN FOCUS: “JAPAN’S MULTICULTURAL FUTURE OF MIGRANTS BECOMING IMMIGRANTS”
5) JAPAN TIMES: “JAPAN’S UNSCIENTIFIC HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY”

…and finally…
6) WE ARE BEING LISTENED TO: ARTICLES ON SUMO AND EXCLUSIONARY SPORTS LEAGUES